The Imperial Astrologer

Malvin Artley

There is something here for everyone--astrologer, astronomer, esotericist, occultist, people just generally interested and even for historians-- for this letter concerns something which has been dear to me for a while and which has its origins in ancient days--the Imperial Astrologer of Chinese occultism. But, this is not a personage--it is a star, an oracle, a sacred covenant among the astrologers of ancient China and a mystery as well. And what would our minds do without a good mystery to keep us occupied? But, some background is needed first.

The ancient Chinese had a profound knowledge of the heavens. Their astronomical systems and knowledge were the envy of the ancient world in their day. Even by today's standards their accumulated knowledge is impressive. Whereas Western astronomy divides the sky into dozens of constellations comprised mostly of the larger naked-eye stars, the Chinese divided the sky into hundreds of constellations--some large, most of them small--and also used a great many stars which on some nights cannot even be seen with the naked eye. Their most important constellations were in what is known as the North Circumpolar Region--the region of the sky that is always visible at any time of the year north of the equator and which "rotates" around the current Pole Star, Polaris. The largest and most magnificent of these circumpolar constellations was, and still is, what they called  "Pei Tou", the Northern Ladle, which we know as the Big Dipper--the seven main stars of Ursa Major, the Great Bear. To the ancient Chinese the North Circumpolar Region was the abode of the Imperial court, since the Emperor was the center of their life and ruled the earth, just as Polaris ("Tai I"--the Celestial Monad) governed the course of the heavens. In fact, the Emperor was signified in the heavens by Tai I. Each facet of the Imperial court had a representative star somewhere within the circumpolar space.

Ursa Major is one of the most massive of the Western constellations. But most of us know it only as the Big Dipper. The Chinese gleaned upwards of a dozen constellations from the stars there along with about 2 dozen individual stars which they considered to be of primary importance. Esotericists will be well familiar with the Great Bear--more specifically, the Northern Ladle--because those seven main stars are the source of the seven primary energies, or Rays, which go toward making up our solar system and all the associated modes of perception within it. In short, they are the source or distributors of the Will of God for our solar system (and not a few other systems, as well). But, the Chinese had a secret, and a well-guarded one at that. Associated with those seven stars, or Rishis, were other groups of seven stars, some of which helped in distributing the seven Light Streams or Rays and another which "stood behind" them (the seven Rishis and the other groups of seven) and even directed them. I will not delineate them here. We should be very clear that, even though we are talking about vast interstellar systems and Beings of fantastic Light and Magnitude, the systems at which we are looking here are only as specks of dust in the even greater vastness of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Of the Northern Ladle, the Chinese said that those seven stars ".....represent the Emperor's carriage [the vehicle of God's Will], rotating around the center of the universe. It governs the 4 Directions, and divides Yin from Yang. It determines the 4 Seasons, balances the 5 Elements, regulates the divisions of time, the degrees of the sky, and many other things. Such are the stars of the Northern Ladle." Esotericists will immediately recognize the similarities between their system and the Chinese description of the functions of the Great Bear. The Will of God would very much do all the things just mentioned, and then some. The seven Rays or Light Streams, their subdivisions, their cycles and their interactions give rise to all that we know within our manifested universe. But, they have to have help to do this. Like any good executive, God delegates authority and divides the load fairly and equitably to those in subordinate positions. Thus, the universe runs like a well-oiled machine and timepiece. The Seven Rishis are only way-stations Themselves, stepping down and transmitting God's Light and Love to us from even more stupendous Lives. The universe is an infinite Hierarchy of Being. 

Many of the Chinese names for stars in Ursa Major carry names such as "Prime Minister", "Big Sun Governor", "Minister of State", "the 3 Dukes", "Factory Chief", along with many other ministers, chiefs, generals and people of high rank within the Imperial Court. Clearly, this was an important part of the sky for the Chinese. In fact, there were no named stars of inferior rank within the region of the sky now known as Ursa Major. Most Western sources attribute the Chinese namings of these stars to arbitrary whims and favors to people in high places. But, to the occultist--no matter what the culture--the stars and planets name themselves. It is my belief that, far from being arbitrary nominations, the Chinese took great care in how they named their stars and asterisms (constellations). They had many generations of accumulated lore and wisdom at their disposal to do so. Their namings are much more descriptive and poetic than the current scientific model of Greek letters, Roman letters and numbers. Energies and higher Intelligences play upon the collective subconscious of people and seek to impress the truth of the greater Universe upon the minds of people everywhere through names, symbols and a host of other methods. As we know, astrology is at one and the same time the grand masterwork of symbolism for humanity as well as a factual and accurate system of gauging and forecasting the energetic interplay of all bodies within the cosmos--so intricate, ordered and righteous is God's Mechanism.

All this brings me to the subject of this letter and a thing which all intuitive astrologers and clairvoyants alike will find most enlightening in these days of accelerating consciousness and upheaval. I will slightly reorganize the Chinese text on the matter: "By the Literary Star, Kuei [one of the stars of the Northern Ladle] are six stars in a square called Wen Chang Kung, the Palace of Literary Genius. The names of the individual stars are Shang Lang (Chief of Staff), Tse Chang (Lieutenant General), Kuei Hsiang (Honorable Counselor of Rites), Ssu Ming (the Controller of Fate), Ssu Lu (the Controller of Rewards) and Ssu Chung (the Controller of the Center)." This last star--the Controller of the Center--is the Imperial Astrologer, Prognosticator and Interpreter of Strange Events.

For the astronomically--minded, this star is known as 23 Ursa Majoris in the scientific nomenclature. It has a spectral class of FO with an absolute magnitude of 1.6, which makes it roughly twice the size of our Sun  and green, at that. This places it in a class of solar system which is more expressive of Will than of Love (Our Sun is more expressive of love. "God Is Love."), and it thus is a great transmitter of beneficent force and power to the local universe. It has a right ascension of 9 hrs 29min 49sec, which places it roughly at a projection of 23 Virgo in the Zodiac (I will have to check this, so don't quote me on it. If I find out differently I will let you know.) It lies at a distance of 85 light-years, which places it in the local neighborhood of the main stars of the Northern Ladle. All this data is from older texts and will have to be double-checked. The key point here is the identity of the star and where to locate it in the sky. Unfortunately, people in the Southern Hemisphere will be unable to see it, unless you want to hop a plane northward. Even folks in the Northern climes would likely have to use binoculars to see it clearly some nights, for it is somewhat fainter than the other main stars of the great Bear.

Now, everyone knows that any imperial court has to have an oracle. The recent "Matrix" movies have brought this back to our consciousness. We all (or most of us) want to know what the future holds for us and what the reasons are for all the bumps in the Road of Life when they occur. The astrologers of ancient China had their oracles, too. But, chief among them was this "Controller of the Center". Whenever major decisions of state were to be made or whenever there were odd occurrences within the empire that could not be explained through the usual motions of the planets, this star was consulted. Oracles are a strange and mysterious business to those who are unfamiliar with their workings. To start with, the oracle must have access to knowledge not privy to the masses or the uninitiated. A true oracle must also have a requisite purity of body and mind along with quiet emotions in order to bring through the needed information intact and uncorrupted by personal concerns. In short, the oracle needs to be an Initiate to be a bona fide mouthpiece for God. An oracle is thus an interpreter for the Mind of God to the masses of humanity. There are oracles who walk among us to this day. But the Imperial Astrologer is a Cosmic oracle. As such, it was consulted solely for matters of state and never for personal concerns. To do so would have broken the connection between the oracle and the consulting astrologer.

People might suppose that this oracle was consulted by simple observations of its appearance on a given night and any events that may have occurred close to or connected with it. We should be aware, though, that for an empire of the size and importance of ancient China there would have been astrologers in the court who were either Initiates themselves or who were guided by Initiates. All nations are guided by Initiates and angelic Presences from behind the scenes, impressing the minds of the leaders and thus guiding the fates of the masses. There would have also been quite a number of lesser astrologers and their helpers who would have gauged stellar influence by observing the appearance of certain key stars. But, the chief astrologers would have all at least had their intuitive faculties strongly developed, and I have the feeling that more than a few of them would have been fully clairvoyant. Of course, the information thus obtained would have been stepped down for the court and the means of its obtaining would have been a closely guarded secret and not for publication. It is doubtful even the Emperor would have known too much about what the old astrologers really got up to at night.

The true method of conversing with the Imperial astrologer would have been along the lines of a meditative practice, such as the type outlined in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, for instance. Occultists would be well familiar with this body of work. In fact, in that work two stars are singled out for meditative work--our Sun and Polaris. For a bit of background, Yoga is defined as "union" or "conjunction" (not in the astrological sense) with the divine, spiritual essence within each of us. A sutra is simply a method or an instruction--a thread of consciousness which leads to the universal Truth one is seeking. There are several different types of yoga--Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Laya Yoga and Raja Yoga, to name a few. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are classed under what is known as Raja Yoga--the Yoga of the intellect, or the Yoga of mental discipline. What most people know as Yoga is what is called Hatha Yoga, or the Yoga of the physical nature with all its attendant postures. All Yogas demand a strict mental discipline or adherence to their form and practice. None of them should ever be attempted except through the guidance of an expert Teacher.

In the Patanjali sutras we have the following two stanzas:

"Through meditation, one-pointedly fixed upon the Sun, will come a consciousness (or knowledge) of the seven worlds [states of Being or planes of Nature]."

"Concentration upon the Pole Star [Polaris] will give knowledge of the orbits of the planets and the stars."

In addition,

"A knowledge of all lunar forms [all types of bodies in the personal worlds] arises through one-pointed concentration upon the Moon."

From the preceding we can see that the Sun deals with Consciousness or Being, the Moon deals with matter and body and Polaris deals with the cycles that govern all of our manifested local universe. Also, we can begin to get a clearer picture of why astrology affixes the definitions it does on the Sun and the Moon. These methods of meditation can also be applied to any planetary body to give specific knowledge. For example, meditation on Mars would yield the inner workings of the persona. Meditation upon Venus would yield the very essence of Yoga itself and the means toward union with all Lives. Meditation upon Saturn would yield the knowledge of all causes and possible outcomes in the human worlds. And this would only be scratching the surface. But, I want to add my own version of a sutra here:

"Through one-pointed meditation upon the Controller of the Center [the Imperial Astrologer] comes knowledge of the future in its most equitable outcome for greatest Good."

What the Chinese were calling "strange Events" in connection with the Imperial Astrologer were actually the workings of the Will of God behind the scenes, prompting people toward a new vision or outlook on things. Strange events always give us cause to stop and think, rather than our usual running to and fro always with our minds elsewhere than where they should be. The Imperial Astrologer is actually a sort of Cosmic Lord of Karma or Adjudicator--a Knower of causes and a keeper of fidelity with God's Law, that we should all live in harmony with eachother and with our solar neighbors. But, it is not the agent of enforcement. As the Oracle, the work is always to advise--to mentor--and to maintain equilibrium when things go a bit awry in the stellar Home. Like the earthly astrological counterparts, the Imperial Astrologer is a mouthpiece and advisor to the Beings or people in authority actually doing the work of maintaining law and order, equilibrium, harmonization and restitution in whatever sphere they run.

With all the strangeness and disharmony in the world at the moment it would seem to be a good idea to renew our ancient connection with the Imperial Astrologer. All astrologers who work with mundane charts and with people of importance and influence would do well to meditate upon that marvelous Being and seek guidance for the most auspicious outcomes for all concerned. In fact, all astrologers and quite a few oracles in other walks of life would reap rich dividends by communing with our ancient Friend. As bearers of Light in this world we are all mouthpieces and agents for the Divine in our immediate spheres of influence. Our judicious, impartial and clear interpretations of events in our own and other people's lives bears our closest attention. Wisdom, born of our own Being and experience is ever our guide. A periodic consult with an Oracle to gain perspective can hardly go astray, though.  But, just as Neo in the Matrix--initially guided by the oracle--found that the oracle, too, is bound by certain laws, we know the Laws of God are for our learning and are there as guideposts. But that eventually helped him find the power of his own free will. And our own free will is a gift from God that can move mountains when rightly applied in the spirit of love and brotherhood. Let our free will help others to equipoise and onwards to freedom! 

May the Imperial Astrologer and our highest Essence guide us on the Path of Truth toward the best possible outcomes in all our lives and for the world at large.




Mercury and its Cycles

Malvin Artley

I have been noticing with particular interest of late the power of symbols in people's lives. There appears to be an ebb and flow to this sort of thing, dependent upon the person's awareness of the world around them, the energies extant impinging upon our little world, the prevailing psyche of the populace and the energies issuing from the planet itself. There is, in fact, a "season" for divination--for reading of omens, portents and symbols--which moves in concert and synchronicity with the factors just listed. I have also been made acutely aware of the power of illusions in people's lives including my own and how this particular period in world history is such a brilliant time for illumination of dark corners and foggy reminiscences. I normally comment on full moons before they occur, but given the recent events in the world and in my own life I feel moved to share some reflections on the Wesak moon that has just passed and its promise for us all this year.

Of particular import at this time is the influence of Mercury on our globe, both symbolically and literally. This Wesak period, as I elucidated in the last letter, has much to do with the dissipation of illusions. This is strongly indicated to us both by the eclipse and by virtue of Mercury making its station at this time. As we all know, Mercury--like all the planets-- orbits the Sun in a regular, elliptical orbit, always in the same direction. But, to our eyes on this planet, all the planets except for the Moon will wander across the sky for a time, appear to stop, then apparently move backwards, stop again, and then resume their normal course--somewhat like a pendulum. This effect is due, of course, to the fact that we are also orbiting the Sun in the same direction, but at differing speeds, to the other planets. Thus, our orientation to them in the sky changes over time and their apparent course also changes as a result. Mercury is apparently standing still in the heavens as of this writing, but it is actually proceeding along its merry way in its due course regardless of our perception of it. But, the power of that particular illusion is a very potent one in our lives indeed.

I will give you some examples as to how this works out. The astrologers among you will know these already, but the rest of you may find them of interest. The periods of the year when Mercury goes retrograde (and there are a few every year) tend to be turbulent times in the psyche of humanity. As I stated in the last letter, there are frequent miscommunications and misunderstandings between people, the media of all types seem to go on the fritz for no apparent reason, there are frequent breakdowns of transport and machinery and the normal psychic apparati of people do not seem to flow smoothly. The world--to put it another way--seems to have been turned on its head and to be not a little bit crazy. The Italians have a saying for it--"Mi gira la luna!" (The Moon turns me!, i.e., things--or people-- are driving me nuts!).

Those of you who know me know I work as a machine-tool technician in my other guise. Retrograde Mercury is a God-send in my present trade because we get a lot of catastrophic machine failures during that time. The electrical problems can be particularly obscure and bizarre. I look on retrograde Mercury as job security. The plant managers who have to call me tend to have a different opinion. As another example, I know of several people who have been trying to get projects off the ground, myself included, and they have been met with delay after delay since Mercury has gone retrograde, caused by technical difficulties, misreading of intentions or instructions or from general stress. Things just do not go smoothly at all until Mercury goes direct again (The 21st, if you are interested or want to know when relief is due). But, perhaps the worst manifestation of this effect is in the world of human relations. At these times everyone seems particularly stressed and prickly. It reminds me of a line from a Joe Walsh tune: "Everybody's so different. I haven't changed."

There are misunderstandings between people who, on the whole, have been quite connected and in tune with eachother, but, for whatever reason, seem to have disagreements about things which they just cannot seem to get their heads or hearts around. Sometimes these things have to wait for another cycle or for Mercury to go direct. What it actually points to is the fact that we do not see ourselves clearly during these periods and that our Souls are trying to get us to look at things in a different manner than that to which we are accustomed. Mercury retrograde is, for all intents and purposes, a time for inner refection instead of outer manifestation. If we could keep that in mind then that month-long period would go much more smoothly for us and for those who are trying to understand us.

And yet, when all this outer chaos is occurring around us the true course of Mercury is---as always--in the same direction around the Sun. This goes to the very point of this letter. If this illusion of Mercury going backward in the sky is only illusion, then why does it cause so much confusion and upheaval in our lives? What is it that we are not getting? How are we thus conditioned that such a seemingly innocuous thing would have such wide ramifications with people? Remember--this Wesak period sets the tone of purpose for the year and not just for the actual full moon period. Though Mercury will go direct in a few days the tone of this present period will be carried within our consciousness for the rest of the spiritual year. It is yet another reminder to keep up with our spiritual rites and to spend more than the usual time with our own individual higher Self.

I have been quite pleased to find that when I go inward now in the midst of confusion the light of clarity is much stronger since the inception of this Wesak period than it has been in the past. At the actual time of the full moon I had the very clear impression of a strong, brilliant Light in my head which was quite apart from what I usually experience. I have found that when I want to get to the crux of a situation now all I have to do is to call on that Light and my answers invariably come. Whether that Light was of the Buddha, from some other source or from my own higher Self is of little consequence. The fact it is there is enough and that Truth issues from it. Illusions are like a house of cards. If we can get to the most essential ones and resolve them the rest will fall under their own weight because they have grown out of the main ones. This station which Mercury is making is very conducive to mental quietude and for receiving impressions form the inner realms. If we could all recognize when these periods of station are then we could see beyond the veil with much greater facility during those times and bring something forward to the world and to ourselves with a fuller potency when Mercury goes direct again.

There is another aspect to these phases of planetary motion which need to be addressed. It is oft unrecognized that everything we do in life carries a sort of momentum with it and that when we try to go against the grain of that force, so-to-speak, then we have trouble actualizing what we are seeking to express--we short-circuit our intention, for lack of a better term. Those of you acquainted with the more occult aspects of meditation will know what I am getting to in terms of this momentum, because there is a direct correlation between this sort of thing and the action of the breath in the meditative process. Let me put it another way. When a pendulum swings, it has the maximum momentum at the bottom of its stroke as it swings to and fro. As it approaches the maximum extent of its travel it slows, briefly stops and then continues in the opposite direction, gathering momentum as it falls to the center of its travel. In meditation this corresponds to the in-breath, pause, out-breath and pause, all to be endlessly repeated as long as the person chooses to do so. As it turns out, it is these pauses which are most important in meditation, because they represent dynamic points wherein we rise above the mind for a brief moment and thus allow insight to flood in.

The stations which Mercury makes are analogous to the brief cessation of the breath in meditation at either end of the breathing process. They are very potent times in the world. They are also very disconcerting for anyone who is uncomfortable with silence in any form or for any enforced period. Energies feel stuck during these stationary periods and they are from the standpoint of external activity, but these periods are--in reality--times when profound wisdom can come and be brought to bear on the next stage of the living momentum of human activity. We could call this "the silence before the storm", if we like. I prefer to look on it as the pause which refreshes, or that stillness before renewed activity which is pregnant with promise and viability. Mercury does govern wisdom, if we remember, and the periods of station are ripe with the wisdom of the Eternal Silence of the Heart of God. I shall be very interested to see how the wisdom just received in the Wesak period will be tried in the fires of experience. Let us be certain of our direction and orientation in this coming momentous period. 

At every pause there is also the choice to be made. Does one continue on the previous lines of momentum or does one change direction in accordance with a wisely assessed need? Once the line of force in one's life is chosen then it becomes difficult to change it once the momentum is established. It is like trying to stop a boulder rolling down a hill. It can be done, but at what cost to life and limb or expenditure of energy? Fortunately, we have several times per year when we can reassess our direction in line with Mercurial intent (the garnering of Wisdom) when Mercury makes its stations. We can either let the boulder follow its own course for the next cycle or we can redirect it before it starts to roll again and hopefully save ourselves some unintended consequences from wrong choices. As always, though, Wisdom is ever-ready for us to call upon, regardless of our choices in life, regardless of the current course our lives are taking and irrespective of prevailing conditions in our environment. Of course, it is always easier to see the Sun when there are no clouds, for example, or when it is daytime, but the Sun is always the same distance from our planet--day or night, rain or shine. It is always a question of orientation, of readiness to see and of cyclic imperatives which govern how much sunlight (Wisdom) we receive.

Wisdom comes in many guises as we ramble on through life. It can come to us in visions and meditations, through experience or in any of a number of ways. Nature is very bountiful in that respect. The Chinese say that Mercury governs divination. They also say its influence is extremely unlucky, turning fortune aspects into unfortunate ones. True, wisdom often comes to us through situations perceived by us to be initially unfortunate. But, this is because of our very human tendency to rebel and to be self-centered. The Chinese further say that if wrong choices are made, Mercury brings retribution. I would expect that the unfortunate part of Mercury from the Chinese perspective comes from this very thing the making of wrong choices. It will also be of interest to you to note that 10 greater cycles of Mercury calculates out very closely to 666 years--well--known as the number of the Beast, or Satan, and that we just commenced one of these greater Mercurial cycles of 66 years on 7th May 2003. The last one began in 1937. But, that is another letter.

Satan, or Lucifer was the greatest of God's angels before pride and rebellion got the better of him and he was cast into outer darkness and suffering. The Chinese had their connection with the Christian concepts of Satan and Hell through these cycles of Mercury and their idea of Mercury as a retributive agent, though they were never stated as such. Even elemental mercury causes physical and mental breakdown if it is ingested. But mercury and Mercury, when used as medicinal agents,  prove to be some of the most profound of healing agencies once the wisdom aspect is accessed and is restored to its proper place in a person's life.

A big part of divination in Chinese society relied--and still does so--on the proper reading of omens or portents. The general gist of the method was to go outdoors upon rising or upon the asking of a question and to take a careful note of the goings on in the natural world with a mind toward gleaning some sort of meaning from what was occurring and thus being able to gauge what the day or response to the question held in store. This involved the use of all the senses and harks back in some degree to the monastic practices in East and West of the morning walking meditation in the monastery gardens. Keep in mind that this practice normally takes place around sunrise and that Mercury is never more than about 30 degrees from the Sun, so it is usually accessible around the time of sunrise. 

The ability to read the signs of Nature is particularly heightened around the commencement of Mercury cycles. The fact that we have just commenced a new one means that there are omens a-plenty if we care to look and that Nature has a lot to offer in this regard. The last such cycle commenced just before the outbreak of WWII and there was very much more wisdom that could have been brought to bear in world affairs at that  time than was the case then. Because wrong choices were made then the retribution wrought was severe, but wisdom eventually came and the forces of Darkness were vanquished for the time. Now the world is facing similar choices along many lines and we are having to seek Wisdom again. Will Wisdom prevail or will we enter into another cycle of retribution? What are all the signs and portents telling us? What are we reading in our own hearts? What does the Voice of the Silence speak to us?

If your life suddenly reads like a litany of profound symbolism and the outer world seems to constantly validate what you have been experiencing internally then you are probably having a good Mercury day and congratulations to you! On the other hand, if you have been going through life blissfully unaware that there is anything out of the ordinary happening then you may want to stop and take another look at the world around  you and your own inner state. Lest we forget! I have found for myself that as I continually address the inconsistencies and seemingly negative happenings in my life at this time that Nature will invariably throw some sort of symbolic confirmation my way. The symbols are absolutely stunning at times. But we have to be willing and able to listen. It is difficult to get answers to questions when we are always yammering on at the teacher, not letting them get a word in edgewise.

In conclusion I would simply say to let there be spaces in your life, to allow things enough time to evolve, to follow the momentum of things so long as they are not harmful and to dwell in silence as much as you can stand when things seem all too much. The answers we all seek are there in that silent space. The Wesak always teaches us about what is of value. Most of all, it teaches us that our lives are indeed precious and priceless and that Love and an open heart will conquer what no amount of force will--because that openness leads us without fail to the correct choice. It is as invariable and inviolate as the course of the heavens. It leads us out of the matrix of our erroneous belief systems and restores the true Order to our living. May we all find such peace that nothing will stay our course and that all doubt falls away from the sheer Light of our Being. This is my sincerest wish for us all in these days.

Well, the times and energies certainly are momentous in this period. Having just come through two of the three most important full moons of the year and a major war we are also blessed to have begun a new 2nd-order cycle of Mercury. As you will recall from previous letters there have been two other 2nd-order cycles of other planets that have recently commenced as well--those of Mars and Venus. These 2nd-order cycles are social cycles and do not concern individuals so much, except insofar as we are all affected by the societies in which we live. Put another way, these cycles are more connected with the operation and unfolding of groups of all sorts. This cycle of Mercury lasts for 66 years and brings about many changes at its inception. But, those changes may not be so obvious to the casual observer, for Mercury--as we shall see--is one of the most mysterious and occult planets in our solar system, and it presides over no less than our transformation from the human to the Divine, ushering us all eventually to membership in the Kingdom of Souls.

 Some background on Mercury would be appropriate at this point. Mercury was the Roman God of commerce, travel and thievery and was the counterpart of the Greek God Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. Scientifically, we know less about Mercury than any other planet except Pluto, due to the close proximity between Mercury and the Sun (thus making it very difficult to observe). It is the second-densest body in the solar system after Earth and is probably the most iron-rich body in the solar system. It has a very thin, wispy atmosphere of sodium--but it actually has water in the form of  ice in the shadows of protected craters on its surface. It exhibits what is called orbital resonance, meaning the spin of the planet (its day) is coupled with its orbit at a ratio of 2:3. The length of its day is 88 Earth-days. These figures are significant to esotericists and give many clues as to how Mercury works. This orbital resonance is due to Mercury's closeness to the Sun and gravitational pulling. In esoteric literature Mercury and the Sun are often said to be one.

Mercury was called the Son of Wisdom and it was the planet sacred to Guatama, the Buddha. If you recall from the last letter, this latest Mercury cycle commenced during the Wesak period, the Festival of the Buddha. The north node of Mercury is in the sign of Taurus, the birth-sign of the Buddha, and it is these nodes which determine the commencement of the 2nd-order cycles. Mercury was called the Watchman of the Sun, the Sustainer of Dominions, and was the strongest of all the vigilants. It is equated with the archangel Michael and was also associated with Raphael, one of the "4 Holy Ones"--the Lords of Karma--the guides of humanity. It is called the first of the celestial Gods, the God Hermes, to which is attributed the invention of and the first initiation of men into Magic. It is Budha (from the root word 'budh'--to enlighten or to know) as distinct from Buddha (the Enlightened One), Wisdom, Enlightenment or 'reawakening' in the divine science. Mercury was always known as the God of Secret Wisdom.

Mercury receives 7 times as much light as the Earth. Its corresponding metal is mercury (from the alchemical system), its color is yellow or gold, its day is Wednesday (Woden's day) and is said to be personified omniscience. It heals the blind and restores sight--mental and physical. It is more mysterious still  than Venus, the Earth's alter-ego, is identical with Mithra, is the perpetual companion of the Sun of Wisdom and is the leader and evocator of Souls. Mercury, as Hermes, conjoined with Venus (Aphrodite) on the psycho-spiritual planes gives humans the name "Hermaphrodite".

Mercury rules the liquid (active) light of the kundalini fire, whereas Mars rules the latent aspect of that serpent. Serpents were always equated with Wisdom in occult literature and it is small wonder that kundalini is called the "serpent fire", because that fire restores the inner, spiritual sight, reveals the Wisdom of the Ages to the astounded initiate and liberates the consciousness that was bound before by the confines of physical existence. As the Divine Intermediary, Mercury carries the messages between the poles (Soul and persona) at the speed of light. It is the expression of the dual aspects of mind as it mediates between higher and lower. As such, then, it is the star of conflict because it reveals to the mind the duality of life--the "Self" and the "not-self". In so doing, it produces a steady pull between that which is perceived and the consciousness who perceives it. As such, too, it is thus the major planet of relationships because it "engineers" the interplay between the lower self and the higher Self, between our Earth and the Sun, and between our Earth and the major constellations which condition us. Lastly, the students of the planetary school on Mercury are called "The Sons of Aspiration" or "The Points of Yellow Light", for those who might wish to use such descriptions in their visualizations.

Now, that's a hard act to follow in anyone's book. This tiny little planet which is nestled so close to the Sun has a very profound significance to our own little world. Orthodox astrology does not accord Mercury with nearly the significance it deserves, probably because Mercury operates more in the realm of consciousness than it does in mundane events. But, to the occultist, the inner planes determine the causality of the manifested universe. Thus, though it may not appear so on the surface, Mercury works potently behind the scenes as one of the truly great "movers and shakers" in our solar system, shaping consciousness on many worlds and thus ensuring that the Plan of God manifests itself in line with divine Providence. Mercury is said to be far older than the Earth and it thus acts as an older Brother or Mentor to the Lord of our planet. Along with Mars and our Earth it forms a trinity of planets of rare importance--which brings me to the point of this letter.

We have all been feeling--if we cared to look--that there is something momentous happening on our world at the present time. Especially since 1998, when Mars commenced its 2nd-order cycle, everything seems to have been accelerated and shaken up. People's lives have been in turmoil or at least very busy. Old things from back in the recesses of one's consciousness have been coming out to be resolved and/or more fully integrated into new paradigms of thinking. The world seems polarized and a scary place to many. Yet, if we look beyond or behind the present chaotic happenings there is an indefinable "something" which seems to be driving us all forward toward greater freedom and spiritual prosperity. To hang a phrase on it, I would have to say there is a deep, growing vibrant expectancy that whatever is coming will bless us all in abundance and richness. But, it is still early days yet. There is still much work to be done in terms of clearing away obstacles to that greater freedom before we can see what is coming with any great clarity.

Esotericists know and occultists work with the fact that our Earth is going through the convulsions of a major planetary Initiation--a sort  of planetary Crucifixion--which will ultimately seal away evil and liberate the planet and all its inhabitants into the true Golden Age about which we have all heard so much.  This will not happen in fullness for millions of years yet, but we are due for a lesser manifestation of it in our present lifetime. One should keep in mind that when talking about planetary occurrences we are looking at geologic periods of time and not human years. But, we do get lesser reflections of these greater periods in social cycles and in any given lifetime. The point is, since the planet is going through this expansion of consciousness it means there are a great many inner processes being stimulated in the planet itself about which we know very little, but which affect us in no small manner just the same. One of the primary forces being stirred in the Earth now is this planetary serpent fire--the planetary kundalini.

Kundalini is a mysterious force, even as understood by many esotericists. Unless one has experienced its effects directly any description of its actions and effects is purely speculation. But, if one has experienced this electric, liquid, living light in their own life then a brief glimpse around the happenings on our planet will speak of the activation of this liberating fire. Kundalini does two main things when it becomes activated. Firstly, it clears away any obstruction to its progress and removes barriers to higher consciousness. This can be and often is a very painful experience (inwardly and physically) to the one undergoing the process because "the veil is rent in two and torn asunder"--literally and figuratively. The subtle and physical bodies are completely reorganized and, to make matters worse, the person has to go through all this reorganizing and tearing away while in a very heightened state of awareness--not my idea of a pleasant drive in the country. As all this is happening, any thought-forms (we like to call these things "issues") left in the inner energy fields of the individual are brought to the surface and pushed out in front of this fire, which then proceeds to destroy either them or the possessor.

What has been thus far described about the activation of kundalini can be a terrifying and destabilizing process to one who has no knowledge of such things. Even to one who does possess certain knowledge along these lines it is a very humbling, awe-inspiring and amazing ride and it changes one's life irrevocably and for all time. There are a great many people who undergo this sort of thing unconsciously who, because they do not understand what is happening, think they are losing their minds and end up in asylums or worse. And, in fact, they have lost their minds in a manner of speaking--all the worst parts of it which they are better off without, but with so much more expanded consciousness and a new type of mind thrown into the deal. There is always a refractory period in which the person must undergo periods of quiet introspection, personal reorganization and instruction from the inner planes as to how to handle all these new faculties. This is one of the primary reasons why it is said that spiritual initiations must be undergone alone. Noone on the outer planes can assist in the process save to help make the person comfortable and to lend support while the process is undergone. The actual rising of the fire is only very brief, but the refractory period can take years, depending upon a variety of factors.

The second main thing kundalini does is to put one into rapport with Consciousness orders of magnitude higher and more numerous than we could ever know in our limited brain awareness. It also puts one in rapport with other kingdoms of Nature, both of this world and outside it, with which we would ordinarily have no contact. Here we see the work of Mercury as the planet of relationships, working to establish them both within the person and between the person and their vastly extended new world through this liquid light of kundalini. The person is thus able to access Wisdom from the past, the present and many possible futures, all at once and without effort, in an instant of time, for when one attains such levels of consciousness there is no such thing as temporal time at those levels. Past, present and future all exist simultaneously in brilliant, kaleidoscopic panavision, to use an inadequate phrase. Now, that's a feature not to be missed! So, despite all the initial suffering that can come from the rising of the serpent, the end result is priceless and the memory of that suffering quickly fades into insignificance. 

To reiterate, we have before us a confluence of cycles that is stimulating the planetary kundalini. We have the Mars cycle of 1998, the new Mercury cycle of 2003, the grand cycle of Mars which culminates and re-commences in August this year, a 1000 year millennial cycle which begins next year and a whole host of supporting cast and characters. Now, all this is not to say that everyone's kundalini is to be raised in this present world period. Far from it. But, at a planetary level we can see certain things working out.

Mars rules over the latent aspect of kundalini. Latent kundalini is that portion of the fire that goes toward the warming and general integrity of the system. In humans that is known as metabolism, basic energy levels and body heat and function. At a planetary level we see it as the internal heat of the planet--specifically magma flows, volcanic activity and plate tectonics. There has been a larger than normal number of seismic disturbances in recent days and we are told to expect much more and soon. This sort of activity affects people who are more sensitive in a number of ways. It produces among its symptoms a general lassitude, strange aches, pains and electrical sensations, dragging pains deep in the bones, sciatica and soreness around the base of the spine, digestive difficulties, brain fag and a foggy head, confusion, poor sleep with bad dreams and a general sense of pressure or tension that nothing seems to shake. People can manifest any of a number of such symptoms when seismic activity increases. And, people's emotional quakes tend to go right off the Richter scale. At a planetary level there is also a general increase of heat in the planetary system, changes in weather patterns, heating of the oceans and extremes of weather. The El Nino weather system has come very much into the public eye since 1998.

Mercury, along with Mars, is bringing about many conflicts in people's minds. I have talked often of the polarization going on in the world due to Mars' influence.  But Mercury is producing much the same sort of thing in people's minds. The questioning of values that began when Pluto started its transit through Sagittarius is being very much accelerated now that the new Mercury cycle has commenced and the Wesak period just passed has brought through the energies of Mercury so strongly. People feel a very strong need for new ways of relating--to eachother and to other kingdoms. We all feel this dynamic point of tension that pervades the world and drives us toward who-knows-what. The work of clearing individual obstructing behavior patterns has become very much accelerated and seemingly more urgent and poignant at times Youth suicide has become a big topic of conversation as our youth questions its place in the world, what it all means and if their very lives have any real purpose. There is real rage and frustration in the masses toward the old status quo, the entrenched power structures and the general feeling that one's time is more and more infringed upon, that one's money does less and less for all the effort we put toward it and that our lives slip away while the things that really matter to us remain unfulfilled. Yet, if we could step back and see the larger view we would see the true purpose of it all: to focus upon the world of meaning and one's inner life instead of temporal, material concerns, or at least to put the material in its proper place.

We, as humanity, cannot continue in the old ways and hang onto our old emotional and mental "baggage" if we are to take the next needed step forward into greater consciousness and livingness. So, the old has to go. We have to be made to see with great rapidity the illusions which have enthralled us for so long. The children being born today bring a new expectancy and way of looking at things with them. They are bright heralds of things to come. They do things earlier and earlier, often with more grace, than we did a generation ago. Mercury rules youth, too, and this new cycle brings a new impulse of youth. As we go through this minor initiatory period and the planetary kundalini does its work the Light will break through with increasing rapidity and brilliance. Will we be ready or will insanity become more prevalent? Frankly, I feel a tremendous excitement (in a good way) about the times and what the possibilities are.

As the herald of the Sun, Mercury is doing its part to usher in the New Age. Through media, through commerce, through communications, through the youth, through travel, through criticism and debate, through educators and all other things Mercurial the New Age is being ushered in with ever-increasing speed. The degree for the commencement of this cycle of Mercury (17 Taurus) reads as follows:

"A symbolical battle between swords and torches"

Keynote: The seeker turns warrior, fighting anew the eternal "Great War".

The "Great War "is within us all, within our own mind as it "slays" what is real and keeps us focused upon non-essentials and  materiality. The greatest test for us all in these days is to let go of the illusion that we "have" things and that our security lies outside who we are in truth. Our attachments to the past and the mind's constant harping upon that binds us and dooms us to repeat the mistakes of that past, rather than extracting the essence of those experiences and moving on from and, indeed, building upon the best parts of them. Let us build anew on the ashes of what is being now burned away and cast our eye upward and inward to the vision of what is coming that we may build correctly at the appointed time and in truth. The ashes of the past form the soil of future efforts. May our fruits be sweet and nourish a hungry and needy, but very deserving, world.